Monday, May 09, 2005

Media Matters on Mary Matalin's Meet the Press performance

Lloyd e-mails to note that Media Matters has a critique of Mary Matalin's participation in the Sunday Chat & Chews. Matalin was on Meet the Press with Tim Russert and James Carville.
When you read Media Matters' critique (which we'll excerpt in a second), ask yourself what Carville was doing? Where was Carville in all of this?

Here's an excerpt from the Media Matters' post entitled "On Meet the Press, Matalin peddled misinformation to discredit opposition to Bush's judicial, ambassadorial nominees:"

Republican political strategist Mary Matalin distorted the facts to discredit opposition to President Bush's controversial judicial and ambassadorial nominees. Appearing on the May 8 edition of NBC's Meet the Press, Matalin falsely claimed that "[w]e have a docket problem" because of "a legislative filibuster used for the purposes of stopping nominees" and that the "people who're coming out of the woodwork" to criticize John R. Bolton, Bush's nominee to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, "are avowed, outspoken Bush bashers."
In fact, the number of current judicial vacancies is significantly lower than at the end of the Clinton administration. Moreover, Bush has yet to nominate candidates to fill most of the available positions, while the officials who have "com[e] out of the woodwork" to criticize Bolton include many conservative and politically unaligned Bush administration officials.

Carville, read the transcript, notes it's Mother's Day "so I've got to be a little careful here," but time and again he let's her spout off lies and doesn't correct her. For every three, he may swing the bat at one. (I'm working on a Times post, forgive the sports metaphor.) (And note, what follows are my opinions, I'm not speaking for Media Matters or summarizing their post in what follows. Read their post, it's worth reading, but I'm about to go off on an editorial tangent.)

It's really past time that they stopped participating in roundtables together. Not just because America's "fascination" with them crashed and burned before Speechless tanked, but also because Carville is lousy when it comes to standing up to Matalin.

I don't care that they're married. This isn't Newlyweds. This isn't, "Oh, isn't it cute how Nick and Jessica . . ." This is about issues (granted, not many on Meet the Press) and Carville never holds her accountable the way he does Robert Novak or Tucker Carlson or anyone else's he's paired with. It's not cute. It's not funny.

It's sick.

She shoots scattershot and he responds to one of her many claims each time he speaks. Are we supposed to be impressed? Are we supposed to holler, "Wow, he refuted one!"

It's insane and someone should have pulled him aside long ago and said, "Carville, you're not helping the cause. Be married to her, be happy with her, but don't debate her on TV because she wipes the floor with you. You find her sexy and amusing, that's you, not the Democratic Party."

Because it really is disgusting. He won't hold her accountable. She knows it, she knows she can spit out multiple lies and Carville will only call her on one.

And if you feel I'm being too harsh on Carville (and maybe I am), ask yourself this: "Why does Media Matters have to run a fact check on Matalin?" Why? Carville was right there, wasn't he?
Shouldn't he have fact checked her on the spot?

(Yes, I think he should have but he never does.)

Let's go the Meet the Press transcript. Here's one passage at random, follow along:

MR. RUSSERT: Mary Matalin....
MR. RUSSERT: ...has this gone too far?
MS. MATALIN: It's demagoguery. That's sheer demagoguery.
MR. RUSSERT: Well, you don't agree with Pat Robertson.
MS. MATALIN: I think that was an injudicious thing to say, but that the secular left has behaved imperialistically--there's no other word for it. They have subverted the democratic process by taking their issues to the judiciary. What the so-called religious right has done has taken their petition and their concerns into the democratic process, into the public square. They organize and they try to affect legislation, as opposed to being the subverted process of democracy which is what the secular left does.
This is all demagoguery. There is a secular left. There is a religious right. It is the way in which the secular left overestimates its uniformity is funny. They're not--there's not just Christian conservatives. There is a lot of the people who are concerned about traditional values and in politics and in the public square. There are lots of Jews, there are a lot of conservative Muslims. There are--it's ecumenical. There's Catholics. It's across the board. There is not a uniformity. There's lots of pluralism and they're part of the democratic process. And this is just demagoguery on the parts of these left-wing extremists.
MR. CARVILLE: You know, I know it's Mother's Day so I've got to be a little careful here but it is kind of odd that Pat Robertson is saying that the federal judges are worse than Osama bin Laden and we're getting accused of demagoguery. I mean, if there's anything more demagogic than saying that, I have no idea what it is. And, look, it's like anything that you do--everybody says, "Well, you're just attacking people of faith." Oh, man, that's a kind of--that is a ridiculous thing. Judicial appointments are part of the political system. It's always going to be that way. This is a fight that the country needs to have. There's nothing wrong with it. And, you know, each side is going to have to make its points.
MR. RUSSERT: It sounds as though, and based on my conversations with Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Senate, Mr. Carville, that there's going to be the so-called nuclear option, that Senator Bill Frist will say "No longer need..."

Russer's moved on to a new topic. Carville's had his chance to refute.

Let's review some of the basics.

Matalin's decried the"secular left" (a commercial). Carville refutes her notion that Pat Roberston's remarks are merely "injudicious." He swung at that one. What did he let fly over the plate while he was scratching his groin?

Matalin just drew a line where the left isn't religious but the right is and so is the center. She's pushed the myth that everyone on the left is 'Godless.' Carville just watched that one fly over the plate. She's stated that the left has subverted the democratic process and Carville's . . . staring at the sun? Where he is?

Don't give me that crap about it's Mother's Day. This isn't a warm & fuzzy sitdown with Barbra Walters for a prime time special. This is debate-the-issues time. Carville, like every day that's not Mothers' Day, lets Matalin say whatever she wants. He'll pick one item to argue. But he'll let her other charges stand.

It's not cute, it's not funny. The Sonny & Cher Show got old a long time ago. And Carville's refusal to challenge her assertions should have long ago led to his refusing to participate in these roundtables. Granted, there are people who would just say, "Mary, you're right." There are some lousy spokespeople for the Democratic Party. But Carville's only got a case of the shys when he's seated opposite Matalin.

He's not helping the Democratic Party when he goes on opposite her.

And let's be honest, there's something really trashy about booking them together. This isn't a dinner. There's no reason they have to arrive and leave together. This is supposed to be about their profession and their professionalism. Instead it turns into some sort of vanity project.

Give them an MTV show. Give them a VH1 show or a Lifetime Show. But stop booking them together. It's not amusing. At a party, you'd walk away from the bickering pair. You wouldn't care to hear this nonsense. You'd be embarrassed for Carville that the cat gets his tongue everytime the person he's disagreeing with is his wife. But someone's decided at Meet the Press that this is the epitome of "class." It's not. It's tacky and it's tawdry.

I don't care for Matalin's political beliefs, but is the message here that she only rates as a guest if her husband's booked? Is the same true of Carville? Is there only value as a freak show?

Pair them up with other people because, as TV, this thing got old long ago. In terms of a debate (even what passes for a "debate" on Meet the Press), Carville should realize that by refusing to debate her the way he does others, he hurts his cause.

It's ridiculous. It's been allowed to go on and on. Do neither of them realize that they are booked as a "freak show?" That's what's going on. "Watch them bicker. Oh, they're married, it's so funny when they go after one another."

Even if Carville would conduct himself the way he does with other pundits, it would still be a "freak show." For the issues they speak about, if nothing else, you'd think after a decade of this nonsense, they'd say "Enough." (Though, were I Matalin, I'd continue with it for professional reasons -- she wipes the floor with an opponent who keeps one hand tied behind his back.)

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